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Emma, Vol. 1 Hardcover – May 19, 2015
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About the Author
Kaoru Mori's previous series, Emma, about a maid and a gentleman in Victorian England, has been lauded by Library Journal and was named to the YALSA Great Graphic Novels list. A Bride's Story has only broadened her fan base in Japan and the U.S. with its elegant style and delicate story.
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Top Customer Reviews
Volume one of the series contains the first seven chapters of the eventual fifty-two and focuses on basic introductions. We meet the shy, but kind and intellegent, Emma, the exotic Hakim, prim Mrs.Stowner, the somewhat daft and dashing Young Master Jones... the list goes on.
Pretty much every character we see, be they the main focus or the bit part side characters, will show up many times throughout the series, and not just as filler. Every single character has a point to them, whether it be to show some side of Victorian Society or to help a more important character (or even just the reader) figure something out about the story at large. I really must applaud Mori for this.
The art is superb, with a strict attention to details and architecture. There's something about the way Mori draws that lends elegance to her character's features. Despite the fact that Emma and Eleanor are considered beautiful, they're not drawn in the typical manner associated with beauty in manga... in fact, they're quite atypical if you compare them to other manga... but, in the spirit, mood, and fasion in which they ARE drawn, you cannot help but see them as so.
The pacing is just right for this sort of quiet courtship... slow and delicate, with an emphasis on subtlety that makes you feel like you're sharing a well reasoned secret with Kelly as she watches the two grow closer.
In the translator's/author's notes/bio at the end of the volume, a point was made that CMX has decided to bring over the series untouched. I assume that means it will be unedited, and am glad and hopeful that my guess is right. FAIR WARNING; in the later volumes there will be some female nudity as there are two, perhaps three bath scenes with several characters that have yet to be introduced. Parents should know of those, though I consider it to be quite tasteful.
There are only two things I didn't like about the release... one, was a choice the author made in the creation. There's a scene late in this volume where the reality breaks down a little and several characters, in typical fashion, have animals hovering near them that represent their current moods. It's generally a good emotive tool, but in a title that strives to portray a reality fairly strictly, this seems out of place. It's a fairly MINOR beef, and hardly noticeable, but I thought I'd mention it.
The other issue was a production one... in particular, the paper stock that CMX used. Perhaps it was done for affect, to make it seem aged (as it is a period piece), but the texture and color of the pages are off... too rough and off-white. It kind of washes out the art and makes it lose crispness. The cover too, is off odd consistency. I just recieved my copy yesterday and already it is starting to bow seriously, in spite of the care I've taken not to bend the spine in reading it. I really wish they used the heavy stock, at least on the cover, like the job they did on Megatokyo's fourth volume. Oh well.
My final recommendation is to BUY THIS BOOK... and every volume after. It's a short series, so it won't take too much of a bite out of your budget, and is WELL WORTH the investment. This is one of the few manga titles that I would include under the heading of LITERATURE... it's just that damn good, in story, character and rendition.
But I'm also a reader of historical romances -- Regencies mostly -- so period tales appeal to me too.
I was browsing Amazon one day searching for something 'new' to read (can't camp on the "order now" button for the next "One Piece" volume all the time... heheh) and stumbled across a review for "Emma". Curious and intrigued, I bought the first volume. I'm willing to give most things that pique my interest a try with at least one volume.
Oh my. I devoured it in less than 15 minutes. Then went back and savored it again with a slower, more thorough read. And did that again and again over the next week while I waited (impatiently!) for my copies of volumes 2-3-4-5 to show up.
Gorgeously and subtly rendered art and story. Compared to shonen, this story moves at a snail's pace. But that's part of the charm. It builds. Slow and sure. Lets you become familiar with the people and place and the time. The rich details of daily life (for both upper and lower classes) are astounding. Not boring, but fascinating. So much cleanliness and comfort and convenience that modern, industrialized life renders simple and of little thought to how to it is achieved now, used to be done by laboriously by hand. And in the case of the lifestyles of the wealthy, by many many hands. It took a lot of support to run a mansion. (Which also employed a lot of people!) We've forgotten that. And forgotten that many of the world still live that way - by hand and with support from many others.
The story is just as deeply researched into the ways and mores of that very different time. Mori-sensei tells an engaging and heart-tugging tale within that venue. She's done a fabulous job of re-creating and capturing the tensions, prejudices (spoken and not), class barriers amid the reluctantly (and often painfully) changing culture of Edwardian England.
There are panels without text that still shout so many things at you. Mori-sensei, I bow to you. Your storytelling skills shine in this medium of manga. You are a true master of your craft. I feel your characters boredom as well as their enthusiasm. Their hope and their pain. Grief. Desperation. Joy. Resignation. Without you having to hurl any of those words in my face. They act pained. Or content. Or afraid. Or confused. Or they pretend those things. And I can see it -- or miss it -- just as the people around them in the story do.
This isn't action-adventure or even blatant romance (at first). What it is is a tale of quiet, ordinary heroism. About finding the courage to follow (or even truly understand) one's own heart. And then finding the deeper courage to live one's own heart.
I'm pulling for you Emma and William.
(I'm pulling for you too, Aurelia and Richard! It's never too late!)
If you're a fan of quiet heroins of Jane Austin and the graphic styles of Japanese Manga, I think you'll find this first book appealing.